Goal: Size, Detail
Bodyparts: Chest, delts, triceps
Incline Dumbbell Press
You may have heard all you want to hear about vascularity, pumps and vasodilators, but there's actual science backing the pump. Higher volume training draws more blood and fluids to working muscles, placing a stretch on membranes thought to increase protein synthesis. But occasionally stepping out of the cozy realms of "three sets of 10" can also be a great instigator for new growth. This routine, which is exercise minimal, takes advantage of a few proven tactics that allow you to get more work done in less time, leaving your pecs -- and to a lesser degree, your delts and triceps -- screaming for mercy.
Perk No. 1: Tabata
Not familiar with Tabata training? The broad strokes are thus: Perform eight, 20-second "segments" of work, each followed by 10 seconds of rest. This simple routine has been shown to boost explosiveness and endurance, while also breaking down the various muscle fiber types within a given set.
To do it with weights, choose a load that allows you to complete around 12-15 reps on your first segment. You'll notice that the amount of reps you can do in each 20 second segment drops each time, so just track your total number of reps, rather than your segment-to-segment numbers. If you can still complete 12-15 reps in your eight segment of work, you've likely gone too light. Each segment added up makes for one, four-minute Tabata "set."
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Doing so many reps in such a short period of time ups the payoff. Tabata is akin to rest-pause training in that it takes advantage of your body's explosive energy stores. For each segment of work, your body will use that volatile fuel source to power through reps. During each 10-second rest, those stores will replenish slightly, although never back to their levels from the start of the set. That's okay, because then the volume starts to work in your favor. In any higher-rep scheme, the movement is dominated at first by slow-twitch muscle fibers. But as these fibers fatigue, your growth-prone fast-twitch muscle fibers are recruited to complete more reps. In other words, you work your pecs through and through, start to finish.
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Challenge No. 1: Push-Ups
How many push-ups can you do? A ton? Great. How many can you do after 50-plus incline presses...Tabata-style? Though it looks like a break, doing push-ups as a second exercise in this fashion is what makes the entire workout so grueling. With your front delts and pecs fatigued from the first exercise, you'll be forced to dig deep to reach even 10 reps during each segment. Vary your hand spacing as needed to complete reps for each 20-second segment of work. Again, only track your total number of reps for the entire Tabata set.
Challenge No. 2: Negatives
You need a way to fill the rest of those 15 minutes, right? Head to a set of parallel bars and, using only your bodyweight, "jump" into the top position of a dip. From full lockout, lower yourself slowly to the bottom, taking 5-10 seconds each time. Dismount and repeat for three total reps. That's one set. Get through three sets and you're done. Doing negatives using only your bodyweight at the end of the workout isn't so much a strength builder (although it will build strength) as it is an insurance policy -- one that guarantees you will have broken down as much total muscle fiber in your chest as possible.